I know, I know… it doesn’t seem like a topic that’s worth writing about, but stay with me, just for a bit. Thursdays on our street are really sights to behold. Almost as if by magic, sometimes before the dawn, black heavy plastic cans with wheels and lids find their ways from inside people’s garages out to the end of the driveway, where they wait patiently for a great moment of our week – trash day. Oh, many houses also have blue cans as well, which, for the price of about another ten dollars a month, you can have them pick up your recycle materials. The thing is, I can drive a half mile in either direction of our home, and end up at a neighborhood recycling place, where I can dump off all the plastic, glass, cardboard and such for free, so it seems kind of goofy to spend $120/year to have someone do that for you…
But not the trash – when you mix in raw chicken trimmings, used cat litter and a host of other “nasties” and you put it all in a trash can, Thursday mornings can get to be an exciting time, if for no other reason than you have the chance to leave the garage door open for an hour or so afterwards, and air out what is otherwise a horrible topic of conversation.
So, Wednesday afternoon is when the call goes out across the house – “Trash Day tomorrow! Can you collect what needs to be thrown from around the house and get it into the can in the garage?” Now, I don’t make that announcement so Cheri can hear it, or that the cats can gather up their stuff for throwing out – it’s directed down the stairs, where we can never be too sure of exactly what has amassed over the course of a week – or two or so, if the “carrying upstairs” chore gets missed.
Some weeks will find the trash can with lots of room in it, for some reason. It’s then that you almost want to make another sweep around the house, just to see what else we could throw away. I mean, you hate to waste open trash can space! Other weeks, however, it’s a different story. Somehow, the can is chock full by Tuesday, which is troublesome, knowing that we still will have two more days to try to fit into the can. The work of shoving and cramming and almost considering climbing in and stomping it down, just so the top will close really should count toward cardio training for the week.
Now, it’s one thing to roll the can out to the curb on a nice sunny summer Thursday morning. It’s quite another, in sub-zero February, when you have to first shovel a path through the snowy driveway, just to get the can down to the street. I remember one time last year, when we had gotten a good six inches on Wednesday night – of course – not Thursday night… As I shoveled the trash path, I discovered to my surprise that it must have also dumped some ice before the snow, and so as I carefully rolled the can down the driveway, it hit the ice, and I found myself in a breakneck run to keep up with what was now a weapon, instead of a tool. The wheels worked fine, but the can ended up rolling at a less than 45 degree angle toward the street. That also gets your heart pumping, to tell the truth…
I’m not sure how it happens at your home, but “we” (I’ll let you figure out who the “we” is) will often take magazines and catalogs that have no use whatsoever, and instead of putting them into the trash, “we” will plop them into an open unused stoneware crock, which surprisingly can hold a rather enormous number of worthless catalogs. Why do we do that? We aren’t sure, but the time eventually comes when nothing more fits, and so “we” dump the entire mess into the trash to be thrown out. I recall one week in particular, when it seemed as though a good four months’ worth of catalogs ended up in the inside trashcan. As I lifted the bag to carry it to the garage, I felt like one of those Russian weightlifters trying to deadlift 1000 pounds. I got it into the big can, and then proceeded to roll it down the driveway. I thought the wheels were going to bend off.
I sometimes watch out my office window as they come to empty the cans into the big trash collecting monster. The monster stops by the can, poised on the edge of the street, and then a pair of grippers reaches out, grabs the can, lifts it up to the top of the monster, and then shakes it until all the trash in out of our can, and then dumps it back onto the driveway – usually, if it is raining, with the lid open so it can collect the rainwater like an old time rain barrel.
Well, that particular day, as I watched, the claws grabbed hold of the trashcan, lifted it up to dump it, but whether the sheer weight, or how it was crammed into the can affected it, but the can ended up slipping out of the grip of the claws and fell with all its contents into the sea of trash inside the monster.
I was glad at that point to have my window closed, because I can only assume the profanities voiced by the driver filled the Thursday morning air. He had to climb out of his comfortable cabin, go up the ladder, and actually climb into the trash sea, and finish dumping the can. He then took the black plastic can and threw it out of the vehicle, and let it fall the 15 feet down onto the driveway, and then he climbed down and drove off, probably still with curse words floating in the air.
Later that day, the sanitation department brought us a new trash can, one without a huge crack in the side of the can, and the wheels nearly bent off, and the lid unable to close. We needed a new one anyway…
Rituals exist across our world, in countless activities. Over and over again, the same or very similar actions and sequences of actions take place which help to bring order in most of what we do. Even trash day. It’s always a good thing to recognize the rituals, and most often, follow them – it’s also helpful not to be so tied to them that there is no room to do something new, of course. Look for your own rituals – things done over and over, like the same dance, or the same song sung. Respect the rituals, but now and then, sing a new song – dance a new dance, and find the freshness of living in doing a new thing. Just don’t miss Thursdays – that’s when the trash gets picked up.
Word for the day: encomium. Pronounced en-COMB-ee-um. We go back to the Greeks for this word. Enkomios means “belonging to the praise or reward of a conqueror.” Broken down even further to en “in” and komos, “banquet, procession, big party.” An encomium, therefore, is a expression of high praise for an achievement done by and individual or group. When we watch the Olympics, and view the medal ceremony, then handing of gold, silver or bronze, and then the playing of the top winner’s national anthem is a true encomium.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.